Part one: Ansible URI module and Jinja2 templating

This article about the Ansible URI module. I have recently spend a lot of time around automation for AVI software defined load balancers and wanted to share some useful information about how to use Ansible to interacting with REST API’s. Please check out my other articles around AVI Networks.

Let’s start with the playbook:

- hosts: controller
  gather_facts: false
    - { role: "config" }

The config role needs the following folders:

├── defaults    # Useful for default variables
├── tasks       # Includes Ansible tasks using the URI module
├── templates   # Jinja2 json templates
└── vars        # Variables to load json j2 templates

I will use defaults just as an example for variables which I use in the task and the json template.

Here’s the content of defaults/main.yml:

username: admin
password: demo
api_version: 17.2.11

Next the Json Jinja2 template, the example below is the system configuration from AVI load balancers but this can be any json content you want to push to a REST API, templates/systemconfiguration_json.j2:

  "dns_configuration": {
    {% if dns_domain is defined %}
    "search_domain": "{{ dns_domain }}"
    {% endif %}
    {% if dns_servers is defined %}
    {% for item in dns_servers %}
    "server_list": [
         "type": "V4",
         "addr": "{{ item }}"
      {% if not loop.last %}
      {% endif %}
      {% endfor %}
      {% endif %}
  "ntp_configuration": {
    {% if ntp_servers is defined %}
    {% for item in ntp_servers %}
    "ntp_servers": [
        "server": {
          "type": "DNS",
          "addr": "{{ item }}"
      {% if not loop.last %}
      {% endif %}
      {% endfor %}
      {% endif %}  
  "portal_configuration": {
    "password_strength_check": true,
    "use_uuid_from_input": false,
    "redirect_to_https": true,
    "enable_clickjacking_protection": true,
    "enable_https": true,
    "disable_remote_cli_shell": false,
    "http_port": 80,
    "enable_http": true,
    "allow_basic_authentication": true,

After we have specified the default variables and created the j2 template, let’s continue and see how we load the json template into a single variables in vars/main.yml:

systemconfiguration_json: "{{ lookup('template', 'systemconfiguration_json.j2') }}"

The step is the task itself using the Ansible URI module, tasks/main.yml:

- block:
  - name: Config | Systemconfiguration | Configure DNS, NTP and Portal settings
      url: "https://{{ ansible_host }}/api/systemconfiguration"
      method: PUT
      user: "{{ username }}"
      password: "{{ password }}"
      return_content: yes
      body: "{{ systemconfiguration_json }}"
      force_basic_auth: yes
      validate_certs: false
      status_code: 200, 201
      timeout: 180
        X-Avi-Version: "{{ api_version }}"
  when: '( inventory_hostname == group["controller"][0] )'

I like to use blocks in my Ansible tasks because you can group your tasks and use a single WHEN statement when you have multiple similar tasks.

I hope you find this article useful and please try it out and let me now in the comments below if you have questions.

Cisco IOS automation with Ansible

Bin a long time since I wrote my last post, I am pretty busy with work redesigning the data centres for my employer. Implementing as well an SDN Software-defined Network from VMware NSX but more about this later.

Ansible released some weeks ago new core modules which allows you to push directly configuration to Cisco IOS devices. More information you find here:

I created a small automation lab in GNS3 to test the deployment of configs via Ansible to the two Cisco routers you see below. I am running VMware Fusion and used the vmnet2 ( network for management because I run there my CentOS VM from where I deploy the configuration.

Don’t forget you need to pre-configure your Cisco router that you can connect via SSH to deploy the configuration.

Here the folder and file script structure of my Ansible example, under roles you have the different tasks I would like to execute common and logging but as well dependencies writecfg which saves the running-config to startup-config:


The site.yml is the main script which I execute with Ansible which includes different roles for common and logging configuration:

- name: Cisco baseline configuration
  connection: local
  hosts: ios 
  gather_facts: false

    - role: common
      tags: common
    - role: logging
      tags: logging

In the hosts file, I define the hostname and IP addresses of my IOS devices

rtr01 device_ip=
rtr02 device_ip=

The file group_vars/all.yml defines variables which I used when the script is executed:

username: "ansible"
password: "cisco"
secret: "cisco"

Under the roles/../meta/main.yml I set a dependency on the writecfg handler to save the configuration later when I change anything on the device.

Under the roles/../tasks/main.yml I define the module which I want to execute and the template I would like to deploy

Under the roles/../templates/.. you find the Jinja2 template files which include the commands.

Under roles/writecfg/handler/main.yml is the dependencies I have with the two roles common and logging to save the configuration if something is changed on the router.

To execute the cisco-baseline Ansible script just execute the following command and see the result:

[[email protected] cisco-baseline]$ ansible-playbook site.yml -i hosts

PLAY [Ensure basic configuration of switches] **********************************

TASK [common : ensure common configuration exists] *****************************
ok: [rtr02]
ok: [rtr01]

TASK [logging : ensure logging configuration exists] ***************************
changed: [rtr02]
changed: [rtr01]

RUNNING HANDLER [writecfg : write config] **************************************
ok: [rtr01]
ok: [rtr02]

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
rtr01                      : ok=3    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0
rtr02                      : ok=3    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0

[[email protected] cisco-baseline]$

Read my new posts about Ansible Playbook for Cisco ASAv Firewall Topology or Ansible Playbook for Cisco BGP Routing Topology.